6 Tools You Need in Your Kitchen, According to a Chef

If you’re looking to elevate your culinary game, Chef Cris Ravarré shares six kitchen tool essentials that she believes home cooking enthusiasts at any skill level should have.

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February 29, 2024
A portrait of Chef Cris Ravarré.

Portrait of Chef Cris Ravarré

Chef Cris Ravarré smiles and leans on her kitchen island.

Photo by: Arnelle Lozada

Arnelle Lozada

Chef Cris Ravarré is a product of one of America’s favorite and most culturally rich cities: New Orleans. Growing up around a family of fantastic home cooks and incredible women and matriarchal figures whose love language was food, she learned her way around the kitchen and discovered her love for cooking early on. She got her start by preparing beloved New Orleans-inspired staples for family and friends before moving on to spend a decade cultivating and honing her craft under the mentorship of top chefs in NOLA’s renowned French Quarter. In 2018, she settled in Atlanta, where she worked part-time as a commercial model and kickstarted her business as a private chef and caterer.

A photo of Chef Cris Ravarré smiling in her kitchen.

Chef Cris Ravarré Smiling In Her Kitchen

Chef Cris Ravarré shares six kitchen tool essentials that she believes home cooking enthusiasts at any skill level should have.

Photo by: Arnelle Lozada

Arnelle Lozada

Today, Cris is a private chef and a sous chef at Cafe No Sé at the South Congress Hotel in Austin, Texas. I’ve been lucky enough to savor many a fare from Chef Ravarré in both professional and personal settings; she is undoubtedly a spice connoisseur and, as a picky, texture-driven eater herself, a master of texture. While simply having the right tools in your repertoire won’t instantly propel you to a pro chef’s level of mastery, Cris believes that for the home cooking enthusiast, these tools will give you restaurant-level precision and finesse right in your own kitchen. Here are the six must-have kitchen tools to level up your kitchen game, as shared by Chef Ravarré herself.

Cris’ responses have been edited for grammar and clarity.

Fish Spatula With a Silicone Tip

[A fish spatula is] my unexpected love and my go-to for crisping salmon skin or preparing any fish — the ease of moving from pan to plate is perfection. But this works wonders on so much more than just fish. It also functions as the best tool for scrambled eggs or making sauces in a pan with its silicone tip, and it flips a fried egg, a burger patty or a pancake with the same ease across the board. This is the sauté pan’s best friend. The silicone tip also means you can use it on all cooking surfaces, even nonstick pans and iron skillets.

A photo of Chef Cris Ravarré using a fish spatula with a silicone tip.

Chef Cris Ravarré Uses Fish Spatula With A Silicone Tip

Chef Cris Ravarré shares that using a fish spatula with a silicone tip is key for crisping salmon skin, making scrambled eggs or making sauces in a pan.

Photo by: Arnelle Lozada

Arnelle Lozada

Microplane

Also known as a rasp-style grater, this is my go-to for a more delicate shave in my garnishes, as opposed to a grater. Whether adding citrus zest to a vinaigrette or topping my crème brûlée with shaved chocolate, this is one of my top-used kitchen tools. If you’ve ever needed a pinch of nutmeg or star anise to add a bit more depth to your soup, for example, this removes the big, clunky grinder from the equation. A few swipes on the microplane and you’re set! And the shavings are much finer and fluffier.

Chef Cris Ravarré Using A Microplane

Chef Cris Ravarré Using A Microplane

Chef Cris Ravarré shares that a microplane, also known as a rasp-style grater, is her go-to for a more delicate shave in her garnishes, as opposed to a grater.

Photo by: Arnelle Lozada

Arnelle Lozada

Immersion Blender

[An immersion blender is] the “I can do it, too” tool of the kitchen. Also known as a hand blender, this versatile tool lends itself well to so many tasks, making it well deserving of a spot on my top kitchen tools list. Want to create a beautiful bisque? Immersion blender. Want to make your own homemade mayo? Immersion blender. Want to make a smoothie without the hassle of pulling out the big, hard-to-clean blender? Immersion blender. It really can do it all, and it creates the smoothest finish and the most perfect texture for soups, purées, smoothies and sauces! It also often makes it possible to cook your dish in one pot from start to finish.

A photo of Chef Cris Ravarré using an immersion blender.

Chef Cris Ravarré Using An Immersion Blender

Chef Cris Ravarré shares that the immersion blender, also known as a hand blender, is the most versatile tool in the kitchen which lends itself to many tasks from making a bisque to homemade mayo and sauces.

Photo by: Arnelle Lozada

Arnelle Lozada

Thermometer

This tool is my security blanket in the kitchen. I would never dare destroy a beautifully grilled hanger steak or a perfectly medium roasted duck breast by under- or overcooking as a result of guess work. Precision is the name of the game when it comes to refining your preparation of meat and poultry products, and that same precision is your precautionary measure to help prevent foodborne illnesses. To ensure that perfect temperature every time, rely on your instant thermometer. Keep some spare batteries on hand!

A photo of Chef Cris Ravarré holding a meat thermometer

Chef Cris Ravarré Holds A Meat Thermometer

Chef Cris Ravarré shares that the meat thermometer is the best kitchen tool to ensure a perfect temperature for meat and poultry products to help prevent foodborne illnesses.

Photo by: Arnelle Lozada

Arnelle Lozada

Gram Scale

When using potent spices or specific baking agents, the gram scale is a must. You wouldn’t want to use 10 grams of cayenne when your recipe calls for 8 grams or use 14 grams of baking soda when it calls for 4 grams. Depending on how tightly you pack a measuring cup or spoon, it can result in pretty significant changes in the actual volume of an ingredient used, and sometimes even the most minuscule difference in measurements can make or break your dish. When a recipe requires accuracy and precision, this is always on my prep table.

A photo of Chef Cris Ravarré using a gram scale for food.

Chef Cris Ravarré Uses Gram Scale For Food

Chef Cris Ravarré uses a gram scale when using potent spices or specific baking agents to ensure accuracy and precision in her dishes.

Photo by: Arnelle Lozada

Arnelle Lozada

Honing Steel

This, my friends, is the workhorse of the group. After prepping tons of carrots or apples, for instance, your knife will need a little love to get its sharp edge back. Learning and understanding the sharpening technique with a honing steel will keep your cuts clean, quick, predictable and safe. Dull knives hurt the most! A sharp, well-maintained knife will also cut down your preparation time, boost your dish’s visual presentation and preserve the integrity of your ingredients for enhanced flavor.

A photo of Chef Cris Ravarré using a honing steel.

Chef Cris Ravarré Using A Honing Steel

Chef Cris Ravarré shares the importance of a honing steel to sharpen kitchen knives. She explains that a sharp, well-maintained knife will also cut down your preparation time, boost your dish’s visual presentation and preserve the integrity of your ingredients for enhanced flavor.

Photo by: Arnelle Lozada

Arnelle Lozada

You can taste some of Chef Cris’ delightful concoctions at Cafe No Sé in Austin and you can find her on social media at @ravarre.co.

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